The Devil Razor in the middle of the lightning storm practically lost control as soon as more than a handful lightning bolts struck the machine in quick succession.
Ves knew that landbound mechs generally incorporated a decent amount of shielding against lightning attacks and EMP effects. They wouldn't croak the second they walked out in a regular thunderstorm and got hit by a few lightning strikes because the metallic machines essentially stood out like giant lightning rods.
Yet any safety system possessed a hard limit. The lightning storm raining down from the vault of the gods already exhibited an intensity that surpassed the buffers of a regular mech like the Devil Razor!
"These aren't regular lightning bolts!"
"The safeties built around the cockpit won't be able to last much longer!"
At some point, the Devil Razor lost control over its movement to such an extent that it lost its grip on its weapon. Its knees also lost stability, causing the mech to keep over on the flat of its back!
Ves winced as the weight of the swordman mech crushed the gravitic backpack with its weight. The backpack had already succumbed to the lightning strikes, causing the antigrav field it emitted to stop compensating for the Devil Razor's weight. This merely amplified the damage and caused the backpack to sustain so much fall and crush damage that its exterior broke and spilled out components everywhere!
Fortunately, Hokaz ceased to channel the massive lightning storm. With a victorious cry, it dispersed the storm and ended the lightning rain!
The victorious exobeast looked more majestic than ever as it raised its head in a proud angle. Its embedded crystals lost more than half of their glow, which indicated that the lightning storm attack had taken a lot out of the sacred god.
Still, this attack alone more than proved Hokaz's chops as the Tyrant of the Wastes! The exobeast unleashed so many empowered lightning bolts that they could ruin an entire mech regiment if it approached in a tight formation!
The only consolation to the Flagrant Swordmaidens was that the energy-draining attack likely didn't span more than a square kilometer at most.
If they ever fell into hostilities with the city of Mulak, then the Vandals and the Swordmaidens may be able to grind the defenders down by employing a dispersed formation adopting hit-and-run attacks.
"It took some time for the lightning storm to rain down." Chief Dakkon said. "Hokaz also hasn't shown any capability of exerting fine control over the storm. It definitely isn't able to avoid hitting its own allies."
That still left the Flagrant Swordmaidens with a lot of limitations in terms of possible tactics they could employ to defeat the exobeasts in a full-blown battle. It definitely wouldn't be a victory without sacrifices as they initially thought.
Savages they may be, their ingenious man-beast connection enabled these natives to exert strength akin to a mature expert mech!
As the storm receded and Hokaz wound down from its battle mode with a satisfied bestial grin, Ves refocused the sensors of the fast transport to the beast, paying particular attention to the sensors that measured resonance.
"The connection between Hokaz and Karawin is a lot stronger than the one between Naeduvis and Pirisa!" Ves reported with a growing sense of amazement. "If these readings are correct.. then the connection between the exobeast king and its beast rider has reached the expert level! It's strong enough to exhibit a similar degree of resonance to a genuine expert mech!"
Captain Byrd looked both amazed and horrified at the news. "What are you saying, Mr. Larkinson?!"
"Captain, I'm saying that Karawin is what passes for an expert pilot among their ranks and that Hokaz is his biological expert mech! No, in fact it surpasses normal conventions among expert pilots and their expert mechs! Hokaz is able to leverage as much power as an ace mech!"
Ace mech! That was one degree higher than an expert mech! If society regarded expert pilots as demigods, then ace pilots earned the distinction of half gods due to the destructive degree of resonance they could call upon!
"Will we need to regard Hokaz as an ace mech?"
"Not quite." Ves quickly tried to reassure the horrified Vandals. "All I'm saying is that while Hokaz exhibited power that has reached the threshold of an ace mech, it doesn't appear to have the control or the endurance to sustain this level of strength. I doubt that Karawin is as strong as an ace pilot. I think this is a case similar to how an expert pilot entering the cockpit of an ace mech. The expert pilot can't sustain the load of piloting such a powerful machine."
The theory that Ves spouted gave the Vandals a better perspective in the power dynamic between the beast riders and their exobeast partners. Dr. Tillman had already estimated the ages creatures like Hokaz and Naeduvis at several centuries old, with the exobeast king exceeding the second-oldest by a margin of at least two-hundred years!
To Ves, this realization fascinated him to no end, because he believed this man-beast connection may be one of the directions his design philosophy developed towards!Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Was it not his desire to design mechs akin to these exobeasts? The thought of building mechs that lived and thought like these sacred gods and actively added their own prowess to the man-machine connection stimulated Ves to no end!
He needed to research the details of this man-beast connection!
He wanted so badly to storm off to Hokaz and bend down in worship to this awesome sacred god! This supremely majestic creature was like an organically grown ace mech, one that truly stood as an equal or even superior to their beast rider!
The quick and devastating victory achieved by Hokaz and Karawin put the score at 1 to 1. This wiped out Captain Orfan's gains and put both sides back to square one in terms of commitments.
If the Flagrant Swordmaidens and the defenders of Mulak wanted to force an outcome to this contest, then they had to fight a third duel.
Captain Byrd already conferred with Captain Clarissa of the Swordmaidens. If they needed to fight another duel, then Byrd insisted on deploying a rifleman mech.
Screw honor and fairness! If the natives rolled out the equivalent of an expert mech to one of the duels, then the Vandals would be just as shameless and teach these savages the despair of battling against a mech that peppered them with lasers at a distance of ten kilometers or more!
A laser rifleman mech would have no trouble hitting a target from this distance, especially when it employed its magnification and targeting systems. An exobeast and its rider on the other hand may not even have the means to retaliate that far!
"Hokaz is definitely the strongest sacred god among their ranks." Ves described their situation. "The rest of the exobeasts don't look nearly as formidable as their king. As long as the third exobeast is as slow as the rest and lacks a ridiculous ranged attack like the one employed by Hokaz, a third duel will certainly be an easy win for us."
However, the other side appeared to be unwilling to fight any further duels. Hokaz let out a couple of commanding roars, causing Karawin to issue out some quiet instructions to his fellow beast riders.
The natives continued to look at the Flagrant Swordmaidens with wary expressions. Hokaz may have kicked the butt of Lieutenant Dise's Devil Razor, but the visitors brought many more mechs. Half of them had already shown off their long-ranged laser capabilities when they burned a hole through their thick alloy city walls.
Captain Byrd ordered one of their rifleman mechs to step forward from the ranks. This unspoken message caused the native beast riders to intensify their discussion.
"Why did you reveal our next duelist, ma'am?" Ves asked.
"I can tell that they are hesitating. It takes a lot of effort for the exobeasts to fight a duel, and even Hokaz looks like it has spent half its fuel tank to summon up the lightning storm. I think they are worried that we are attempting to exhaust their sacred gods one by one. Now that I have signalled that our side is willing to send out a ranged mech, they should feel a lot less confident about achieving victory. Maintaining parity with us should prove more attractive than risking another loss, especially since they already sent out their two strongest exobeasts."
"Won't we gain an advantage if we win two out of three duels, ma'am?"
"Not necessarily." The older mech captain shook her head. "We'll only rub our superiority in their faces, but these natives look too proud to tolerate such indignity for long. If we want to establish truly friendly ties with this faction, then we need them to see us as strong but equal partners."
If the Flagrant Swordmaidens stuck around for months and years, then they would have time to work away the resentment the locals had accumulated from suffering a loss.
Yet according to their schedule, the ground forces would only be sticking around for two weeks at most. The visitors from the stars wouldn't be interacting with the inhabitants of Mulak on anything more than a superficial basis. Captain Clarissa managed to convince Captain Byrd that the natives would be more favorably disposed to the visitors if the Flagrant Swordmaidens didn't trample upon their pride.
"How would you feel if a complete stranger knocks at your door out of the blue and insists on barging into your home?" Captain Clarissa asked. "Then suppose the stranger proceeds to punch you in the face while threatening to be let inside. You'd never feel good about your new guest because if he can punch you once, he can punch you again."
The natives had come to a decision. They had fallen for the manipulations directed against them as they put down their hostile attitude!
A smaller exobeasts stepped forward and its younger beast rider began to announce their decision. "Hokaz, the Tyrant of the Wastes, the god-king of Mulak, the one who possesses the key to the vault of the gods, respects your battle prowess. In his infinite wisdom, our wisest sacred god has decided to be generous enough to extend Mulak's hospitality to those who claim to have come from beyond the vault of the gods! We permit entry to no more than ten humans!"
The natives attached a few more conditions and assurances to the Flagrant Swordmaidens. They promised not to harm the visitors granted entry into their city as long as they didn't do anything outrageous. The Flagrant Swordmaidens in turn needed to pull their mechs out of sight to the city, and weren't allowed to bring any of their 'godless machines' into the city.
Though risky, Captain Clarissa thought this was the best offer that the natives could stomach at the moment. "Insisting on bringing in a mech is not wise. It is a challenge to their exobeasts and may serve as a potential destabilizing factor in their rule over the city."
Captain Byrd did not seem so reassured, but she was willing to defer to the Swordmaidens as they possessed a lot more experience in interacting with isolated settlers in the frontier.
Eventually, the Vandals and the Swordmaidens each presented five representatives. Captain Byrd chose to bring Chief Dakkon, Dr. Tillman, Ves and Captain Orfan.
Byrd hesitated over the last addition. Without Orfan's presence, the mech company that remained behind lacked a strong leader and champion to take charge in case of emergences.
However, Captain Orfan managed to win a clean victory in her duel against Naeduvis and its beast rider Pirisa. As the victor of the first duel, Captain Orfan probably earned the respect of the natives, and bringing her along would help break the ice.
The Swordmaidens brought forth their own gaggle of experts and mech pilots, including a lightly-injured Lieutenant Dise.
Compared to the plain and functional suits of armor worn by the Vandals, the five Swordmaidens that stepped forward came in full pirate regalia. They all appeared ready to intimidate or chop up every obstacle in their way!
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